Every year, the clans come together to celebrate. They ride the waves, share great feasts, and show off their towering banners. I don’t know the first thing about the Tidal Blades universe, but there’s something lovely about being invited to partake in a fictional culture’s holiday.
Except I’m not entirely sure where this one fits. Rather than being designed by Tim and Ben Eisner, co-creators of the original game (along with recent favorite Wonderland’s War), Banner Festival is helmed by J.B. Howell and Michael Mihealsick. When last we saw them, they were offering another waterlogged effort in the form of Flotilla. Good to know they already have their sea legs, because there’s a storm on the horizon.
It’s madness that Wonderland’s War works as well as it does. Codesigned by Tim Eisner, Ben Eisner, and Ian Moss, the description is a mishmash of play verbs and unnecessary plastic minis. An area-control bag-building press-your-luck rondel-drafting wagering game? Leave the sequence adjectives to the professionals, honey.
The avalanche works in part because of the game’s setting. Lewis Carroll’s madhouse world is as zany and starkly drawn as ever, and only made slightly more madcap by the world war currently scouring its environs. The other part is more to the credit of its design team: it’s rare to be treated to a game quite this funny.
Allow me to indulge in my inaugural Old Man Moment by saying, hey, fairy tales used to be better. No, not back in my day. I’m talking way back, when the forests were thick and uncut, the sun only peeked through the pestilential clouds once a fortnight, and taking a wrong turn while returning home from the well might get you eaten by either wolves or Visigoths.
Strangely, Tim Eisner’s The Grimm Forest comes within an inch of evoking these older, more ominous stories, and all because this fairy tale’s got bite.